Saturday, September 30, 2017

Trump frames the debate to his advantage

Donald Trump is at work changing the story on Puerto Rico.  

It is not a matter of federal government inattention and lack of concern.   It is the ideal Trump frame: Hard working traditional Americans being set upon by Incompetent and undeserving outsiders.

We can see the Trump formula at work in three tweets.   People who underestimate Trump will be his victims.
Step One:  Attack the critic's moral legitimacy.  In this case by saying she is dishonest (having been complimentary prior) and that her motives are corrupt (instructed by Democrats rather than the facts).

Step Two:  Attack the critic's competence (poor leadership ability) then generalize to the general Hispanic population (other leaders, and unmotivated workers)

Step Three:  Place the situation into the frame of lazy or incompetent Hispanics being a financial burden on  majority Americans (10,000 Federal workers doing a fantastic job.)

This is Trump at his archetypal best in issue framing, turning the Puerto Rico hurricane response into a frame of hard working Americans with the burden of shiftless, incompetent, unmotivated non-English speaking people.   

This blog has focused the past week on issues of inside vs. outside.  Trump has effectively framed Puerto Rico's citizens as outside and undeserving.  It is a corollary of his framing of the NFL players as being outside and unpatriotic.  The populism of cultural conservatives, a group that is a substantial majority of the Republican electorate, responds favorably to the notion of closing ranks and defining America and Americans as the traditional majority of white Christians, a group that is being disrespected and outnumbered.

Trump has turned the Puerto Rico story from one of federal government malpractice into one of whites burdened by incompetent and ungrateful Hispanic benefit seekers.   That image fits a Trump narrative nicely.


  1. Trump hasn't even unleashed his most potent potential divisive comment yet: Puerto Ricans pay no federal income taxes. It will be a territory exempt from paying the very taxes that fund FEMA demanding-- not requesting. See, "Hate Taxes? Move To Tax-Free Puerto Rico, Avoid IRS", Forbes, July 4, 2014, Unlike Bush with Katrina, based on taxpayers expecting more from an incompetent FEMA misspending their tax dollars,Trump can say "you're the incomptents demanding our money like it's yours". The more Democrats attack Trump on this, the bigger he is going to win.

  2. Puerto Ricans pay billions into the treasury and are a poor economy. While they don't pay personal income tax on earnings in the territory, as US Citizens they pay nearly everything else, including Social Security, Medicare and an 11% sales tax, not to mention high prices for many commodities that must be brought from the mainland, including most of their food. Much of the property is owned by non-residents from all over the world.

    Like Hawaii the biggest industry is tourism. That's over for the foreseeable future.

    The Trump cult need to be reassured that those brown people aren't going to get any handouts. The facts are irrelevant.

    The economy of the island may be changed forever if the tourism industry isn't rebuilt due to investors not willing to spend where there is no government support. It will become a welfare state and as such a drag on the economy.

    Saying that, and having been there and seen the shacks and ramshackle buildings, I feel the preparation for a catastrophic storm was neglected. Responsibility for this is across the board, but not the fault of the people.


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